So...last October I decided to release my first book for Kindle Unlimited. It's the first in a series of experiments. I'd like to know how my books would fare if they're available for borrows and whether they'd still be borrowed or purchased even if they're just short stories. At present I have six books on Kindle Unlimited:
- My Werewolf Professor (semi-new book), a short paranormal romance with an HFN ending priced at $.99
- Ensnared (new book), prequel to new paranormal romance series priced at $.99
- The Rockstar and His Fangirl (new book), a short contemporary romance with an HEA ending priced at $.99
- My Werewolf Husband (new book), a paranormal romance novella with an HEA ending priced at $2.99
- That One Time (backlist), a contemporary romance novella priced at $2.99
- The Rockstar I've Loved for So Long (backlist), a contemporary romance novella priced at $2.99
WHAT I'VE OBSERVED:
- PLUS: I'm particularly happy with how MWP did since a large part of it was something I already shared via my newsletter. It's really more like a short prequel so when you consider that, the fact that it had almost 700 borrows for the entire month of November (sales not counted of course), it's a good thing definitely. But the worrying thing is that for this December, the rate of borrows had a steep decline - from double-digit borrows every day in Nov to single-digit borrows in Dec. I'm sure a part of it has to do with the fact that I haven't released the second part of the story. We'll see...
- MINUS: What I'm not so happy about is with MWH. The characters for this book are one of my most popular. While it did get a lot of borrows, the sales are particularly disappointing. Keep in mind that by enrolling this book in KU, I'm also required to be exclusive with Amazon, which means I don't get to sell on other platforms. I've had several readers express their disappointment about this and I really feel bad every time I get their messages and emails. Rough estimate for MWH - when you total sales and borrows, I think I earned only about 50% of what I usually earn from a new release.
- MINUS: I've also been hoping to reach new readers with MWH and TRHF. And I did, if only based on the emails I get from new readers but not as many as I hoped.
- PLUS: Setting a book free on Amazon becomes ridiculously easy since you don't need to wait for them to price-match. And since it's in KU, you can still earn from borrows even during its promo days. I did this with Ensnared and it helped promote the next books in the series.
- MINUS: You don't get to experience the same sell-through effect on other platforms.
- PLUS: What I am happy about is how I'm getting borrows for TOT and TRILFSL. These two were released in 2013 and they've only been selling a few copies each week in the past few months. Thanks to KU, I'm getting borrows AND sales every day so that's definitely a good thing.
- MINUS: I was really disappointed that October's rate for borrows was lower than September's. Granted, it's been a downward trend since KU's launch but I had hoped it would improve. So now, I've lowered my expectations about November and I won't be surprised if December's rates are even lower. =/
CONCLUSIONS / TAKEAWAY:
- I'll most likely pull out MWH of Kindle Unlimited once its exclusivity period is over. Aside from wanting to please my readers on other platforms, I just don't think KU at the moment can make up for the loss of sales from non-Amazon outlets. Also, MWH is novella-length, which I normally price at $2.99. Royalties for this is about $2 but if I only get borrows from the book, I only earn a little over $1.
- The point of having my books in KU is reaching new readers but as I mentioned earlier, I'm not reaching as many as I hoped. What's been happening is - as mentioned by other authors and indie superstars at that - that readers are being converted to borrowers. More about that here by the way.
- I'll be mostly writing SHORT stories about OLD characters for Kindle Unlimited. They will all be priced $.99. But before enrolling them in KU, I'll make sure to have them up for sale on all platforms during its first two weeks of release before taking them down and having the book available in KU. This way, ALL readers have a chance to download the book from their favorite retailer.
- No NEW $2.99 release of mine will be made available in KU. Rates for borrows are just too unpredictable so until Amazon doesn't set a fixed rate for KU borrows, well, that's a deal-breaker for me.
- Some of my backlist may be made available by KU if I think they'll fare better there.
- I'd like to see how many books I need to have and write for KU in order to win an All-Star bonus. :D
- I'm planning to launch a new pen name in 2015 and I'll be enrolling my books under this new name in KU. I think for new authors or new pen names, KU can be a good tool for exposure, especially when combined with effective marketing (e.g. pricing, book cover, blurb, sample pages, and paid and free forms of advertising).
Disclaimer: As always, everything here is entirely my opinion. You are not obliged to think what I write here is correct, proper, or effective. Secondly, please be reminded that I consider self-publishing as a business, which means I write not just for the love of it but also as a way to earn income and be a good provider for my loved ones.